Interpretation of Holocene lake-level change from diatom assemblages in Lake Sidi Ali, Middle Atlas, Morocco

P. A. Barker*, N. Roberts, H. F. Lamb, S. van der Kaars, A. Benkaddour

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While palaeohydrological changes in non-outlet lakes provide a key proxy indicator of past climatic fluctuations, for lake systems which have been chemically insensitive, it is necessary to use indicators of water depth rather than salinity to reconstruct their hydro- climatic histories. A study of diatoms in the modern sediments of Sidi Ali, a non-outlet lake in the Middle Atlas of Morocco, has shown a statistically significant correlation between water depth and the ratio of planktonic to littoral diatoms. This relationship is used to calibrate fossil diatom assemblages from a lake sediment core from the same lake to provide a quantitative index of water levels over the past c. 6500 years. Palaeoecological evidence suggests that climatically induced hydrological variations have dominated the bulk of the mid-late Holocene lake sediment record, with significant human-induced catchment disturbance only occurring during the twentieth century. The pattern of water depth fluctuations suggests that the response time of the regional groundwater system to climatic forcing is <100 years.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-234
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 1994


  • diatoms
  • Holocene
  • lake-level
  • Middle Atlas
  • Morocco
  • palaeohydrology


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